Protecting our Protectors

Protecting our Protectors

On July 16, 2015, a gunman opened fire on two military installations in Chattanooga, Tennessee. He first committed a drive-by shooting at a recruiting center, then traveled to a U.S. Navy Reserve center and continued firing, where he was killed by police in a gunfight. Four Marines died on the spot. A Navy sailor, a Marine recruiter, and a police officer were wounded; the sailor died from his injuries two days later.  There have been four such attacks since 2008 across America; 2008 in New York at Times Square, 2009 in Little Rock, Arkansas, 2010 in Washington, DC at the Pentagon and others that have been thwarted. 

Shortly after the Chatanooga attack, I penned a letter to Governor Inslee asking him, in whatever capacity he had, to authorize the issuance of firearms to Washington National Guard throughout Washington State’s recruiting centers so that they are allowed the right to defend themselves.  We can no longer stand idly by and watch our men and women in the military be left defenseless if they are not allowed to protect themselves.  28 Representatives and 7 Senators from across the state joined me in signing the letter. I want to give special recognition to my fellow Clark County legislators that signed this letter: Senators Ann Rivers and Don Benton, Representatives Paul Harris, Liz Pike, Brandon Vick, Ed Orcutt, Gina Mccabe and Rich DeBolt. 

I never received a response from the Governor.

Video courtesy The Columbian

In January of this year, the Adjutant General of the Washington National Guard called my office to discuss the letter I had written to Governor Inslee requesting that he allow our Guard members to protect themselves in the wake of attacks on US military recruiting centers. Major General Bret Daugherty shared with me that the FBI confirmed there were now serious, credible threats against our recruiting centers here in Washington and was seeking support for additional funding to hire armed security guards, to purchase soft body armor and portable ballistic panels for recruiting center windows. He realized it was not exactly what I was originally asking for, but nonetheless, he stressed that it was imperative that they are protected and shared that the Governor agreed.
I offered an amendment as a proviso to the operating budget to provide the necessary funding for these crucial things. I am proud that my amendment was adopted in the House, but disappointed out of concern for the safety of our service members that the amendment didn’t make it into the final budget. I will be working with the General’s office during the interim to assure of these protections in the coming session.